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Pakistan grants consular access to Sarabjit
No word on 1,347 other Indians in Pak jails
Rajeev Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 26
The Pakistan Government today handed a written intimation to the Indian High Commission in Islamabad conveying its agreement to give consular access for Sarabjit Singh. However, Islamabad was yet to convey till late this evening when and where the Indian diplomats would be allowed to meet him.

India had asked for consular access not just to Sarabjit Singh, but to all 1,348 Indians (including Sarabjit) languishing in Pakistani jails. The Pakistani response pertained to Sarabjit only and ignored other 1,347 Indians, sources said.

India’s list of 1,348 prisoners in Pakistan included 923 civilians, 371 fishermen and 54 Prisoners of War (PoWs). This is over and above the 435 Indian prisoners in Pakistan for whom Pakistan has already given consular access, the latest on July 18 last.

By asking for consular access to all 1,348 Indian prisoners in various Pakistani jails, India has demonstrated that it is not focussed on Sarabjit Singh only and has the welfare of the entire lot of 1,348 prisoners in mind.

The Indian High Commission in Islamabad has identified two of its diplomats, a First Secretary and an Attache, to meet Sarabjit Singh when and wherever they are allowed to do so. Sarabjit is lodged in Lahore’s Kot Lakhpat jail.

The next step, after the Pakistan Government decides on the when and where aspects of consular access to Sarabjit, would be an interface between Sarabjit and Indian diplomats. The Indian diplomats would record Sarabjit’s name and address and get him photographed for establishing his identity. These details will be given to the local police in India for cross-checking Sarabjit’s identity.

After getting report from the local police, the Indian Mission in Islamabad would release an “exit certificate” for Sarabjit — an important document that has to be carried by the man in question on his entry into India in case he is set free by the Pakistan Government.

Interestingly, India has just completed this exercise with regard to 435 Indian prisoners for whom Pakistan has already provided consular access.

All these 435 prisoners, which are over and above the list of 1,348 Indian prisoners in Pakistan, were given “exit certificates” by the Indian Mission in Islamabad earlier this month.

The Indian Government’s plea to Islamabad with regard to these 435 Indian prisoners is that all these were bona fide Indians and should be released and returned to India.

Pakistan has also 74 of its prisoners in India and for all of them New Delhi has granted consular access.

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